Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bibleman: Conquering the Wrath of Rage

Every now and then, my quest for religious weirdness leads me to something you really need to see to believe it exists. Readers, I give you Bibleman.

Yes, Bibleman, a superhero for Christ. He fights evil in a spandex suit, wielding a lightsabre-like weapon called the Sword of the Spirit. In fact, his entire outfit is the Armor of God from Eph 6:10-17: the waistbelt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, jockstrap of chastity... okay, I made that last one up at my wife's request, but the rest of it is all part of Bibleman's Full Armor Sequence when he dresses up to go fight sin.

Needless to say, this is a kid's video. It's also part of a series from Pamplin entertainment, with each episode dealing with a different problem. Conquering the Wrath of Rage deals with - you guessed it - anger management.

Bibleman stars former child star Willie Aames(Charles in Charge), who also produces and directs. He gives the show a tone similar to the old Adam West Batman show, with plenty of action and humour. Some of the jokes are even funny. Bibleman is, by far, the best Christian video I've yet seen.

If only that were saying something.

The story is simple enough. The dastardly El Furioso and his hench-dude Ludicrous(not the rapper) have developed a potent gold dust that brings out the rage in people. He successfully tests it on a kid named Jordan, and on Bibleman himself. Bibleman talks to Jordan at the request of his grandmother(Jordan's, not Bibleman's) and tries to make him see sense. Trouble is, Bibleman is dealing with his own issues; he recently lost his original partner, and an annoying guy named Cypher(named after his mother, perhaps?) keeps pestering him to let him be his new sidekick.

Can Bibleman save Jordan, defeat El Furioso and accept Cypher's help and friendship? Duh. It's a Christian video, aimed at kids. What else is gonna happen?

In spite of the predictability of the plot and general lack of acting skills when it counts (when sprinkled with the evil dust, Bibleman and Jordan seem more irritated than angry), this video also has some strange moments. The story begins with Bibleman dueling with two gun-toting villains(who they are is never explained). Bibleman gets a whiff of the gold dust, lets out a battlecry, and KILLS ONE OF THEM!!! The moment holds no gravity; Cypher seems more concerned that his friend lost his cool. "You always told me the fastest way to lose a fight is to lose your temper," Cypher says, when he should be saying, "Crap, man! you just killed a guy!"

Also strange is the inclusion of a scene in which Bibleman and Cypher stop a fight between Jordan and another boy. They wait in a nearby hedge as Jordan and the boy make threats at each other, waiting for El Furioso to make his move. Yes, two grown men in spandex outfits watching a pair of young boys from the bushes. Nothing wrong with that image! And why do they wait until El Furioso has dumped the fury dust on Jordan to intervene? Shouldn't heroic types try to prevent that sort of thing? And telling Jordan he has a bad attitude after he's been doused with a mood-altering substance is just mean.

Even stranger is the scene immediately before this one. Bibleman tells Cypher of a talk he's had with Jordan's grandmother, in which she revealed the details of Jordan's upcoming fight. Apparently granny overheard Jordan challenging the other kid to a fight, complete with time and place. Isn't it great that kids these days have such well-scheduled fights? Instead of doing something about it, granny calls Bibleman. It seems parental responsibility goes out the window when a spandex-clad hero is available.

And don't get me started on El Furioso's song and dance number. Or the fact that he has a lightsabre... er, Sword of the Spirit to fight Bibleman with(did George Lucas have a garage sale or something?).

The video does have some redeeming qualities, such as character development. Bibleman is affected by the fury dust because he hasn't dealt with his feelings over the loss of his former partner. Willie Aames' willingness to let Bibleman be less than perfect gives the character a tiny bit of depth. The same is true for Jordan, whose parents were killed in a car crash(which explains why he's so easy to anger, and why he lives with his grandmother). The other characters, however, are just window dressing, ranging from useless(like Jordan's granny) to annoying(Ludicrous & Cypher).

Like I said, this is one of the best Christian videos I've seen. However, as a children's video teaching the benefits of not giving in to anger, Bibleman is sorely lacking. Nothing is really resolved by the end; Bibleman offers empty Biblical platitudes to Jordan, then pulling an Obi Wan Kenobi during his final duel with El Furioso. Refusing to give in to anger, Bibleman lowers his sword and lets El Furioso strike him. At the last second a magical sheild from God surrounds Bibleman, saving him and reducing El Flurioso to a puddle of goo. If the message here is to tell kids to wait for the magic God sheild, they are going to be disappointed. And possibly chopped in half.

So now you've met Bibleman, an unique experience to say the least. If you have to watch a Christian kid's video, you could do a lot worse. I mean, you could get stuck with Commander Kellie.

Likely To Convert - 2
Production Values - 4
Acting/Direction - 3
Likely To Be Sat Through - 8
Unintentional Hilarity - 2
Intentional Hilarity - 5
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 4

Well, that brings my video reviewing to a close for now. It was fun to do something a little different for a while, but watching and writing about these things is a lot more trouble than it's worth. I might do some more later, but for now It's back to tracts for this blog.